Carousel Tax Breaks Hurt City

Post-Standard letter to the Editor.

June 24, 2009

To the Editor:

In response to Minch Lewis' defense of Destiny: First, property "taxes" paid are PILOT payments that flow back to Carousel Mall related expenditures and not to city general fund. Also, I believe, state EZ property tax reimbursements flow back to Pyramid as opposed to city general fund. Also, the tax increment financing agreement provides enough revenue to potentially cover 100% of Carousel expansion and renovation. Taxpayers may likely pay for 100% of Carousel mall, and city will receive far less tax revenue than if there were no expansion and Carousel were put back on the tax roll.

Second, tax assessors estimated the market value of the existing Carousel Mall at $500M-$600M or more, and property taxes of $20M-$25M per year if it were put back on the tax roll.

Third, Clearly, Pyramid has received vastly more in tax breaks and government subsidies than it has "given" for any public benefit. Any "giving" of Franklin Square property is just a fractional return of taxpayer gifts it has received.

Fourth, the $60M "up-front" payment (actually over 10 years) to the city is not extra revenue; it is a somewhat accelerated payment of standard construction fees the city charges to offset expenses in overseeing construction and verifying code compliance, etc. The payments will not lead to $3M reduction per year in property taxes; we will loose $25M per year for 30 years due to tax-free Carousel.

If the Carousel Mall expansion is a success, we will not benefit. So far, the mall has taken our tax dollars, and has only shifted pre-existing retail business in CNY to Carousel, for little or no net gain in jobs, and a net loss in tax revenue due to mall subsidies. We should not allow Pyramid an extension to start phase two of the expansion. We should instead investigate the legality of the agreement the city made with Pyramid.

Carlo Moneti

Note: The published version shortened several sentences, removing clauses that made the original more edifying.